Griselda – The Gripping Tale of a Bloodstained Colombian Drug Baroness

SERIES REVIEW – The stunning and talented Colombian actress, Sofía Vergara, brings to life the title character, a former drug baroness, in the Netflix series “Griselda” with an impressive performance. The supporting cast does not disappoint either – especially those male characters who play pivotal roles in Griselda’s life. “Griselda” rivals “Narcos” in many aspects, but it’s a pity that the ending falls a bit flat and fails to adequately reveal the later stages of Blanco’s life.



In Hollywood, it’s almost become a tradition for actors to undergo dramatic transformations for a challenging new role. Whether it involves drastic changes to their body, reshaping their face with prosthetics, or even completely forgoing cosmetic enhancements, a film or series where an actor becomes “unrecognizable” always deserves special attention, as it signals a role vastly different from their previous ones. In Netflix’s upcoming crime drama “Griselda,” Sofía Vergara steps into the shoes of the infamous drug baroness, Griselda Blanco.

The beautiful Colombian actress Vergara transforms chameleon-like into her role, and despite the sometimes distracting effects of prosthetics, her performance stands out. As we follow Griselda’s rise – or fall, depending on the perspective – in the cocaine underworld, her inevitable doom becomes clear. Vergara’s portrayal of the character’s gradual “damnation” – and the depiction of this transformation – remains thrilling throughout, even as the later parts of the series become increasingly lackluster, culminating in a particularly disappointing finale.



Sofía Vergara faces a colossal challenge in portraying the female Escobar


Initially, I approached “Griselda” with some skepticism, even knowing the renowned professionals behind it. True, the creative team, including names like Eric Newman, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard, and Ingrid Escajeda, who have already carved their niche in the pantheon of mafia series with “Narcos” and its Mexican spinoff, could be a guarantee of quality. But with so many mediocre or lame Netflix series lately, it’s hard to trust the streaming channel’s quality in advance. However, this creative team is experienced enough to narratively and excitingly portray the tragedy of those living in the shadows of crime and the mad rush for quick wealth.

The biggest question in “Griselda,” however, was whether the series’ lead, Sofía Vergara, could credibly embody a character whose darkest traits would make even Al Pacino’s Scarface pale. Vergara undoubtedly has an advantage as the first Colombian actress to portray Blanco (previously portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones in a 2017 film), but portraying the character over six episodes was still a significant challenge. Griselda’s character undergoes a profound emotional journey as she ruthlessly climbs to power, moving from the background as the silent brain behind her drug lord husband to becoming the “Godmother of Cocaine.” Of course, this requires her to dramatically “break up” with her second husband, Alberto (Alberto Ammann), and move to Miami with her three sons and a bit of cocaine in her suitcase. But as she soon discovers, leaving the past behind is not so easy, especially when deadly enemies lurk in every shadow, and the allure of crime is so strong…



“The only person I ever feared was a woman named Griselda Blanco”


The series begins with this quote from Pablo Escobar, which is not only a witty play on words (since “man” in English can also mean a male), but also serves as an introduction to the male-dominated world we are about to enter. Throughout the story, it’s often the case that Griselda is the only woman in a place full of killers and corruption, where Miami’s drug-dealing men see her as nothing more than an annoying woman who doesn’t know her place. But Griselda is not the kind of woman who lets men dictate the rules: she shapes her own power, surrounding herself with people like Arturo (Christian Tappan), her husband’s former finance man, and Carla (Karol G), an old friend and prostitute who helps her with drug smuggling.

The prosthetics worn by Vergara may initially seem odd, but as the series progresses, they increasingly contribute to shaping Griselda’s character, highlighting her predatory features. As the series advances, Griselda’s facial expressions increasingly reveal a predatory nature, particularly emphasized by her broad nose, especially in the phase when she coldly eliminates her rivals. There are scenes where Griselda almost hunts in a dimly lit ’80s nightclub, intensely assessing every potential threat – a level of alertness that can easily slip into outright paranoia. It easily slip into outright paranoia. In these moments, the pervasive danger of her environment becomes palpable, as Griselda’s quest for power grows increasingly challenging to manage. Comparable in many ways to Al Pacino’s protagonist in “Scarface,” Griselda, however, faces skepticism from her allies who question her determination to stay on top. This skepticism turns Griselda’s paranoia inward, leading her to doubt even those who have stood by her from the start. This process makes Vergara’s portrayal genuinely captivating for the audience.

Perhaps the series’ most outstanding episode is the penultimate one, “Paradise Lost,” directed by Andrés Baiz (who helms the entire series) and written by Doug Miro, Ingrid Escajeda, and Giovanna Sarquis. This episode focuses on a birthday party for Griselda’s third husband, showcasing Vergara’s finest performance as Griselda’s drug-fueled psychosis threatens to irreparably shatter all the meaningful relationships she has built.



Supporting characters also shine bright


But it’s not just Vergara’s Griselda that makes this series strong; the supporting cast also puts in stellar performances. Even when the story stumbles in places, the actors convincingly navigate this simultaneously dangerous and alluring world set in the ’70s. Griselda’s ruthless hitman, Rivi (Martin Rodriguez), is a character of fluctuating loyalties, executing his duties with cunning, yet it’s clear that his bond with Griselda is driven by more than just financial gain. Griselda’s third husband and former bodyguard, Darío (Alberto Guerra), brings an emotional depth to the series, revealing a romantic side that becomes particularly heart-wrenching as their relationship takes a tragic turn.

Despite interesting secondary characters, the series largely revolves around its protagonist, with other female characters not receiving as much spotlight. Although several women are featured in the series, only a few experience significant character development, with most remaining in the background. Carmen, portrayed by Vanessa Ferlito, has an intriguing past as a drug lord’s ex-wife. Early in the series, she warns Griselda not to let herself be drawn back into that world. However, Carmen quickly fades from the main storyline, appearing sporadically as the plot requires her presence.

Unfortunately, one of the weaker aspects of the series is the storyline of Detective June Hawkins, played by Juliana Aidén Martinez. Portrayed as an underestimated woman on the other side of the law, who is as directionless in her career as Griselda is resolute. Naturally, June plays a larger role in the Miami-Dade PD’s investigation into Griselda’s activities, joining the CENTAC task force as the cocaine epidemic reaches its deadly peak. However, the show doesn’t highlight any significant showdown between the two women or even hint at a more climactic confrontation. Ultimately, this is Griselda’s world, and the rest of the characters are just living in it.



A rushed finale


Following the explosive fifth episode of Griselda, the finale feels somewhat rushed and haphazard by comparison, as if the creative team realized they had limited time to tie up every loose end satisfactorily. While the show has always been billed as a miniseries, this is one story that would have definitely benefited from one or two more episodes to reach its conclusion. Those more familiar with the real Griselda Blanco know that there’s plenty of narrative potential in her later years, even after her arrest by the DEA and subsequent compassionate release leading to her deportation – but the show itself seems reluctant to delve too deeply into her later life.

A scene in the finale, where one character lists off a sequence of recent deaths to another, feels more like ticking off necessary narrative boxes rather than a moment bearing significant emotional weight. It also contributes to Griselda ultimately concluding with a whimper rather than a bang, especially when juxtaposed against so many of the preceding episodes. Despite its occasional shortcomings, however, the Netflix series offers a fascinating look into a figure both controversial and intriguing – and is dominated by Vergara, perhaps in the last role anyone ever expected her to play.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-




Direction - 7.2
Actors - 8.4
Story - 6.4
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 6.8
Ambience - 7.2



Griselda is a complex and captivating series that traces the life journey of drug dealer Griselda Blanco. Sofía Vergara's stunning performance is at the heart of the series, while the supporting cast also delivers strong performances. Though the series finale feels a bit rushed, Griselda is an exciting, albeit occasionally incomplete narrative, offering a deep dive into the life of a complicated and contradictory historical figure and drug baroness.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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